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In a dramatic climax to the 2016/17 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters, emerging harness racing stayer Temporale proved triumphant tonight (Friday) in the Gr.1 $156,000 Canam Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park. Prepared by champion horseman Tony Herlihy, the four-year-old Monarchy gelding finished fast along the passing lane to beat quality mare and race favourite Habibti Ivy and Bordeaux in a driving finish. The victory provided Herlihy with his 5th success in the event. Previous winners came via Gee Du Jour (1991), Diamond Field (1994) and One Over Kenny (2007 & 09). Beginning brilliantly to lead, Temporale was quickly taken on by Habibti Ivy before Prime Power attacked for the premier position. With Todd Mitchell dictating terms in front with Prime Power, the lead time was covered in 2:07.1 while Habibti Ivy and Temporale both secured soft trips on the inside. The first half of the final mile was covered in 32.9 and 30.1 seconds. With little or no pressure applied to Prime Power, the race quickly developed into a sprint home with those close to the marker line holding the advantage. Heading off the back straight, Prime Power tripped the third quarter in 28.8 seconds while Habibti Ivy and Temporale sat poised waiting on the passing lane. In the straight, Habibti Ivy quickly raced to the lead but Temporale was coming fast deep into the sprint lane and scored by a neck margin at the finish with a further length away to Bordeaux in third. The final quarter was timed in 28.8 seconds. The Cup was covered in 4:07.9 – a mile rate of 2:04.6, well outside of the race record of 4:03.6 which is held by Stent who set the mark in 2015. “He’s a nice little trotter that got away perfectly and ended up with easy trip on the inside, he sprinted really well in the straight and it’s a pleasing victory.” Herlihy said. Since returning from a break, Temporale has been placed in four of his five starts which includes two victories. Temporale has now won 6 of his 18 starts with 9 minor placings while amassing more than $170,000. Temporale Not only were runners vying for the lucrative prizemoney and bragging rights for the North Island’s major trotting event, the race was on to be crowned the Trotting Master for the current term. Heading into the final leg of the five race series, the leaderboard was a logjam with 11 runners a chance of picking up the title. Sydney trained performer On Thunder Road led the way with 101 points but connections elected to bypass the remaining two legs staged in Auckland during the past week leaving the door open for a New Zealander to swoop. And swoop they did. With her victory last week in the ANZAC Cup followed by her second placing in the Rowe Cup, flashy mare Habibti Ivy has come from virtual obscurity to be crowned the 2016/17 Trotting Master. Habibti Ivy is prepared by Paul Nairn. Chris Barsby

Don’t be put off by Walkinshaw’s terrible standing start record in the $25,000 Country Cups Final at Cambridge today. Because if the best version of the smart four-year-old turns up he can overcome his 20m handicap, even on a track where chasing can be hard work. The field brings together mainly the journeymen of the country pacing circuit, whereas Walkinshaw and Bettor Spirits are genuine Alexandra Park horses who have raced in the big time. Walkinshaw finished third to Lazarus and Chase The Dream in last season’s Northern Derby but has failed to reach those heights this campaign. “He has had some up and down runs but the grade he is racing in can be very, very tough especially at the carnivals,”says trainer-driver Tony Herlihy. Which is one reason Walkinshaw has had five standing start races without a placing. Two of his most recent stands have been behind superstars in Vincent and Heaven Rocks at Alex Park premier meeting, while another of his standing start failures was in the Sales Series Pace at Kaikoura. The last was in the Hawera Cup last start when he clearly didn’t handle the softer track so his poor stand statistics may not be relevant and with the front line for today’s 2700m stand not overly imposing he looks the one to beat. “You always need luck in this sort of race at Cambridge but he is well and he can definitely win,” said Herlihy. Bettor Spirits has similar career highlights to Walkinshaw but his manners early and luck from the 30m backmark could decide his chances. Victory with either Eldolar or Imajollywally in the Final could cap a huge season for trainer Arna Donnelly, who has been in career-best form. With a stable lacking any high-priced stars Donnelly has won a personal best 24 races this season, taking her past the 100 career training wins and she sits an impressive 14th on the national trainers premiership. One of the other highlights of today’s twilight meeting will be another northern two-year-old trot, races which have been better supported early this season than in the past. If Paramount King trots all the way he should win race one as he uses the race as his final trial before heading southern to take on baby trotters who have been racing in far bigger fields. “Our horse may not have the experience some of the southerners have but we think he is pretty good,” said trainer John Dickie, one of the best in the business with young trotters. Michael Guerin

Frank Cooney and Tate Hopkins will unleash their 2-year-old filly, Gottabearose and Cambridge Raceway on Thursday, but Positano is a better winning chance in the second event. Gottabearose has drawn three, of seven, in the fourth race - the $7,000 Autex Industries Maiden for the 2-year-old pacers, whereas Positano has copped the widest second row draw in the NSSC Mobile for maiden pacers. "It wouldn't surprise me if Gottabearose won on debut. She's good enough but at this stage of her career she just lacks a bit of ringcraft and confidence. "Positano has had nine starts and has been real consistent of late. He's a nice 3-year-old gelding who just needs luck in the running from gate 14," said Tate Hopkins who trains the duo with Frank Cooney at Taupaki. Gottabearose is the third of four foals out of the two-win 2002 Live Or Die mare, Gottabeseptember. Gottabearose finished fifth (of five) when qualifying 4.4 seconds under time at Pukekohe last Saturday. The Sir Lincoln filly finished half a second behind winner, Caitlyn Clarke and Scott Phelan. "Whatever happens on Thursday she will benefit from the run. She appears to be an honest filly who tries her guts out, and from gate three she will have every show. "We are working about 14 horses at the moment - six of which are two-year-olds. This filly would rate third or fourth best 2-year-old we have got. Last week’s winner Churchill Downs is right up there," Hopkins said. Maurice McKendry drove Gottabearose to qualify, but has opted to drive the likely favourite - the Robert Dunn trained De Lancome in the 2-year-old pace. James Stormont will drive Gottabearose. De Lancome was a beaten four-length favourite when making his debut at Alexandra Park last Friday night. He drew two that night and has copped the one marble on Thursday. That run would have done him the world of good. Hopkins said regular reinsman, Tony Herlihy (MNZM) would again drive Positano, who has placed four times from nine lifetime starts and has a two from three place record at Cambridge - and four from nine over Thursday's 2200m mobile distance. “Sure he will need a bit of luck from out there but he’s been racing real well of late and has the driver to win. He went 2:46 when finishing a close-up fourth (from gate 10) at Alexandra Park last start. “That was an encouraging performance and this race doesn’t look any harder. He got well back and ran home well that night. We’ve only got two in on Thursday and he’s our best winning chance,” Hopkins said. Cooney and Hopkins have been training together since 2012-2013 and have trained 40 winners from 302 starters since then. They have so far conditioned six winners from 41 starters this season.   Duane Ranger

Tony Herlihy (MNZM) will be training two good chances in this year’s Rowe Cup and has chosen to drive Temporale over One Over Da Moon in the $150,000 Group One feature at Alexandra Park on April 28. “They are both progressing along nicely, but because Suzanne (wife) has a share in Temporale I will probably end up driving him in the Rowe Cup. “The other one is a bit more experienced and even though he hasn’t had much racing in him lately he tends to go well in a fresh state up here. I was pleased with his workout win on Saturday,” Herlihy said. One Over Da Moon and stable junior, Tony Cameron won a five-horse 2700m stand at Pukekohe on Saturday in 3:37.4 (mile rate 2:09.5) and came home in 57.6 and 28.8. The 6-year-old Majestic Son entire started from 40m behind and had one-and-a-quarter lengths and one-and-three-quarter lengths to spare over place-getters and 20m handicappers, KD Hall and Shady Sadie. That was One Over Da Moon's first run back since finishing 10th in the Dominion Trot at Addington Raceway on November 11. All-up he's won 21 of his 63 starts and placed in 10 others for $322,861 in lifetime stakes. One Over Da Moon never raced in last year's Rowe Cup but finished fourth behind Stent the year before. "I was happy with his run on Saturday. He seems well within himself. It will be a bit of an ask without having had much racing but like I said before he seems to race well in a fresh state. "He will have his first start, most probably alongside Temporale in the (Group One $80,000) Anzac Cup the week before the Rowe Cup," Herlihy said. He said he was also happy with Temporale’s second behind fellow 4-year-old Lemond in the feature trot at Alexandra Park last Friday – the $16,000 Haras des Trotteurs Mobile for the R81 and faster square gaiters. "He went well and is trotting nicely at the moment. He's got a few Rowe Cups ahead of him whereas the other one has 'been there and done that'. "Temporale is a promising young trotter who only needs time. He's certainly got the all-round game to go a bit further," Herlihy said. "I was really pleased with his Group Three win the start before," he added. Temporale proved too strong for The Mighty Johnson and Prime Power in that $26,000 Majestic Horse Floats Greenlane Cup. He won by five lengths and trotted the 2700m stand from in front in 3:29.9 (mile rate 2:05) and home in 58.4 and 29.3. Temporale has only ever been out of the money twice in 16 starts. He has recorded five wins and nine placings for $86,232 in stakes. Temporale has never lined up in an Anzac or Rowe Cup previously, but One Over Da Moon did finish fifth in the Anzac Cup two years ago behind Sheemon. “It would be nice to have them both start in such a prestigious race like the Rowe Cup. I am hoping they both get in,” he said. Herlihy has never won any of the previous five Anzac Cups but did train and drive One Over Da Moon’s dam – One Over Kenny to victory in the the Rowe Cup in 2007. He’s also driven three other Rowe Cup winners – Gee du Jour (1991), Diamond Field (1994), and One Over Kenny (2009). Only Peter Wolfenden has driven more Rowe Cup winners (five). They were behind Jewel Derby (1960), Single Cash twice (1968), Single Cash (also again in 1968), Framalda (1977) and Special Pride (1980).   Duane Ranger

It’s been four years since Tony Herlihy tasted Group One success, but the champion reinsman said it was just as he always remembered it when The Orange Agent won Friday night’s Group One New Zealand Breeders Stakes at Addington. You have to go back to Irish Whisper’s victory in the National Trot on New Year’s Eve of 2013 to find Herlihy’s last victory in a Group One and when The Orange Agent crossed the line well in advance of her rivals he also ticked off another achievement on his long list of success as a driver when he won the premier mares’ event of New Zealand racing for the first time. The Orange Agent’s win was Herlihy’s 65th Group One success, more than 31 years since Comedy Lad gave him his first when winning the Auckland Cup back in 1986. “It’s nice to be able to tick another one off, but the credit really needs to go to the horse,” Herlihy said. “She’s outstanding, and is getting better every time I get behind her I think. “We got it pretty easy out there for the first bit, but she still felt so big and powerful coming off the back when we really sprinted that I knew she would be hard to run down.” The Orange Agent is a bit like a harness racing equivalent of Valerie Adams. Cool, calm and collected but when it’s required the ability is there for a bang moment and she can blow her rivals out off their feet in one swoop. The Brian Hughes trained mare had issues in getting to Addington and arrived in Christchurch at the 11th hour for the Group One along with fellow Northerner, Better B Amazed. Not even that hectic schedule could stop her though as she claimed her fourth Group One success. The daughter of American Ideal has now won 20 of her 29 starts for more than $600,000 for her owners; Trish, John and Maureen Green and also Peter Bult. Piccadilly Princess, who enjoyed the good trip behind The Orange Agent was unable to peg her back in the straight running a brave second while Better B Amazed emerged from the pack to run third. *It’s not everyday that the appearance of a horse such as Lazarus can be usurped by others, but on Friday night that was exactly the case. New Zealand’s highest rated pacer made light work of his fresh up performance when he pulled off the back of stable mate Heaven Rock’s at the top of the straight and waltzed on by for Mark Purdon. “He needed that hit out, we haven’t been able to do a lot with him,” Purdon said. “That will strip him a lot better off and he can probably come back here again next Friday and have another run before we head to Auckland.” A trip to Auckland means no Easter Cup for the New Zealand Trotting Cup winner but an abundance of riches await him in the North Island anyway and a shot at Jewels glory too if the All Stars decide it’s worth have a crack at. Heaven Rock’s for his roguish tendencies was fantastic in second after blasting the gate and then over-racing for much of the event. “I thought he was good,” Natalie Rasmussen said. “It’s a confidence thing with him really, every time he goes out there and does things right is a win for us. “But he’s going to be competitive, I’ll be putting a stronger bit on him, we just had a light one on him tonight and he tried to fight it a bit. Captain Dolmio continued his rise up the ranks with an eye-catching effort for third as he works towards the Easter Cup for the Robert Dunn stable. *Cran Dalgety knows Chevron Express is good enough to take on most of the boys in this weekend’s New Zealand Trotting Derby but the presence of Enghien is enough to make him elect not to be there for the Group One. Dalgety’s outstanding filly added the New Zealand Trotting Oaks to her resume’ on Friday night with a particuarly dour performance in the hands of Dexter Dunn after looking all but done at the 400 metre mark. “She just needed a bit of time to balance up,” Dalgety said. “They were running along that quick that it was always going to be a survival of the fittest and she knows how to find the line.” Owned by the popular and effervescent Graham Beirne, Chevron Express will now head to Auckland to contest the Sires’ Stakes Series for three-year-old trotters and then the Northern Trotting Oaks. She will be likely to take on the boys when the Jewels roll around later in the season. “We know she is good enough, but you don’t want to be doing it all the time.” Regal Love showed she will be a force wherever she heads to next for the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen stable with her bold effort for second while Needle, who finished third, was relegated back behind Zoey’s Gift after it was proven that she had struck the latter’s tyre at the top of the straight. Colin DeFilippi admitted a charge of careless driving and was suspended for three days. *It’s a case of game on for the New Zealand Derby this week. Ultimate Machete was outstanding winning Friday’s Flying Stakes, but there was equally as much admiration for the performance of Vincent who finished third. It sets up a mouth-watering clash for the Derby and barrier draws are going to very much play a factor in the Group One event on Friday night. “I’m really happy with that run for my guy,” Natalie Rasmussen said of Ultimate Machete. “It was an absolutely perfect hit out for us heading into next week because we didn’t have to do too much but managed to get a good run into him which will tidy him up really nicely.” Vincent was left three wide without cover for the last 800 metres of the race, but picked himself up at the top of the straight to surge again, beaten only by Ultimate Machete and Rakapuka Ruler who had enjoyed the run on the markers. The latter showed his gate speed will make him a factor this week if he can draw the front line as he blasted out from behind the mobile on Friday night to find the right spot before handing up to Ultimate Machete. *New Zealand records were par for the course on Friday night with four new records being set. Chevron Express set the ball rolling when she lowered Habibti’s three-year-old 1950 metre record when trotting 2:21.9 - which is incidentally only 0.2 seconds off Monbet’s male record for the same age group. Franco Nelson then lowered Lazarus’ age group record for a four-year-old and older over 2600 metres when he paced 3:10.7 to win his comeback race. The Orange Agent then beat Pemberton Shard’s national mark for an older mare over 2600 metre by almost two seconds when she crushed her rivals in the Group One New Zealand Breeders Stakes, pacing the distance in 3:07.4. Habibti Ivy then smashed Golden Gate’s national record for an older trotting mare over 2600 metres when she claimed the Four and Five-Year Old Trotting Championship. Matt Markham The Orange Agent winning   Lazarus winning  

The Alexandra Park Driving Premiership means a lot more to Zac Butcher than what people think. “I don’t get enough drives to win the New Zealand premiership and Alexandra Park is my home track. Whoever wins that title is usually right up there as one of the best going around in the North island. “That is very important to. I’ve had a really good season so far and I’m desperate for that to carry on going into the last third of 2016-2017,” Butcher said. The 25-year-old Clevedon horseman has reined home 19 winners from 125 drives at Alexandra Park this season. He’s also placed on 37 times and has a healthy 0.2773 strike-rate. Both Butcher’s father David and Tony Herlihy (MNZM) are second with 18 wins apiece. “If I can stay ahead of Tony (Herlihy MNZM) the rest should take care of itself. He’s won the title so many times and to beat him would be some mean feat. I told Dad that and he said that he was the one I should be looking out for. “I joked to him saying that if I was ahead of Tony I’d be ahead of him,” Butcher laughed. “I’ll be dirty if I dropped behind Dad. He’s one driver I really want to beat. We have a big family rivalry when we get out there. Ben and I always want to beat Dad,” he added. Butcher’s above average season can largely be put down to his boss Barry Purdon also being the leading trainer at ‘The Park’ with 22 wins – three clear of his brother-in-law, Herlihy. “I’ve been driving some very good horses this year and I’m grateful to Barry and his owners for having faith in me. I’ve also picked up quite a few quality outside drives which have been helpful. I can’t thank all the owners and trainers enough,” Butcher said. One outside trainer was Mark Jones, who provided Butcher with another Group One victory in 2016-2017. Butcher drove the Jones trained Rocker Band to win the Group One $100,000 Ladyship Cup at Melton's Tabcorp Park on February 17. "That was the highlight of the season so far and I'm so thankful for getting that drive. I still love what I do and I love where I work. I'm always hungry for wins, no matter where I drive," Butcher said. Nationally, Butcher has driven 36 winners from 209 drives and is eighth on the New Zealand Driving Premiership with. He has also placed 36 times and he has earned $423,529 in stakes in 2016-2017. His UDR strike-rate sits at a very good 0.3179 - 0.344 higher than his father, but Butcher Senior has driven 44 winners this season and sits fifth on the New Zealand Driving Premiership. "It's always great to beat Dad at anything, but at the same time I will always respect what he's achieved. Only the very best reinsmen drive 2,200 winners," Butcher said. Butcher (Zac) has topped the 100-win mark once in 10 seasons of driving. That was in 2011-2012 when he saluted the judge 114 times and banked a personal best $882,293. His strike rate of 0.2718 that year was much less than what he's achieved this season. All up Butcher has driven 547 winners from 4,135 starters since 2009. He's also placed on 979 occasions and has career stake earnings of $6,080,246. His lifetime UDR is 0.2393. The 2017 Alexandra Park Drivers Premiership as of today March 22 – (Driver, Starts, Wins, Seconds, Thirds, UDR) 1) Zac Butcher 125, 19,15, 22, 0.2773. 2) David Butcher 140, 18, 21, 21, .0.2619. 3) Tony Herlihy 124, 18, 15,17, 0.2581. 4) Maurice McKendry 138, 18, 10, 20, 0.2190. 5) Brent Mangos 101, 17, 12, 7, 0.2574. Duane Ranger

Victorian trotter, One Muscle Hill will have his only North Island start at Cambridge Raceway on Friday night. The Nicole Molander trained 2-year-old son of Muscles Hill will line up as one of the favourites in the $8,000 Lone Star Riccarton 2yo Sires Stakes Prelude. Even though he is being temporarily being stabled with Dave and Clare McGowan at Pukekohe, the bay colt is being cared for by Molander's stable employee, Monique Burnett. Molander's husband Dean flies in today (Thursday) to take over from Burnett. "We think a lot of him, but need to know just how good he really is, and that's why we have brought him to New Zealand. He is one of a shipment of horses that was bought in New Zealand by his American owners Mark Hanover and Gordon Banks," Molander (Dean) said. "He's all paid up for the Sires Stakes and Yearling Sales races, so we thought why not. Hopefully he can get enough dollars and also qualify for the Jewels final," he added. Tony Herlihy (MNZM) will have his one and only drive behind One Muscle Hill on Friday before his brother-in-law, Mark Purdon takes over the reins. "He will head to Mark and Natalie's (Rasmussen) stable after Friday's race." One Muscle Hill was a half-neck winner of his only start at Maryborough on March 2 - the $7,000 Seelite Redwood 2yo Trotters Handicap. He started from gate six and was driven by Gavin Lang. He paced the 1690m mobile in 2:12.5 with a 2:06.1 mile rate. His sectionals were: Lead time: 8.0; first quarter: 32.8; second quarter: 31.9; third quarter: 29.7; fourth quarter: 30.1. He was the $7.50 fourth favourite. "We think a lot of him but the best gauge will be to see how he goes in New Zealand. We would love him to qualify for the Jewels Final at Ashburton in early June and then come back here and prepare for the Breeder's Crown," Molander said. Hanover and Banks paid $57,500 for One Muscle Hill to his breeders Lex and Heather Williams of Waimate’s One Over Lodge at last year’s New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale in Christchurch. One Muscle Hill is the third of five foals out of the three-win Earl mare, Landora’s Pearl. “He’s always looked and acted like a good racehorse over here. He really loves eating. He’s such a laid back character, which should help him in his racing. He never seems to get fired up. “The owners were real keen to bring him to New Zealand. He qualified well here and has carried that into race-day form. We just hope he can repeat that in New Zealand. “We know it’s much tougher over there and that’s why we want to send him there to see exactly where he is at,” Molander said. Only five runners will greet starter Colin Courtney in the 1700m mobile. Toughest for One Muscle Hill to beat will be the John and Josh Dickie trained Paramount King, who has drawn the ace. That 2-year-old son of Love You and Paramount Star has won his last two Auckland non-tote races very easily. Duane Ranger

Atrociously wet conditions didn’t stop The Orange Agent beating this season’s Interdominion champion, Smolda, by half a neck in the Group Two City Of Auckland Free-For-All Pace at Alexandra Park last night. Smolda and Mark Purdon led for all but the last 50m of the 2200m mobile, but Tony Herlihy (MNZM) got the best out of her in the last few strides to win the $50,000 Auckland Co-Op Taxis sponsored pace. In doing so last season’s best female pacer cast aside her mantle of being ‘The Queen Of The Park’ to now one of the best pacers in Australasia. After breaking her fetlock The Orange Agent is now truly back to her brilliant best. Herlihy agreed. “She needed last week’s run (third) and tonight she had to be good because Mark was setting some even sectionals. She felt extra and I think she will be in for a good season,” Herlihy said. The Orange Agent snuck up the passing lane to pace the 2200m mobile in 2:42.79 mile rate 1:59) and home in 26.6. Have Faith In Me (Tim Williams), who sat parked was three-and-a-quarter lengths back in third. Tonight’s 19th win in 28 starts was the result of extreme patience displayed by The Orange Agent’s South Auckland trainer, Brian Hughes. He could have been tempted to retire her to the broodmare’s paddock but instead overcome two leg injuries with her to get the 5-year-old American Ideal mare where she is now. Hughes said The Orange Agent now head to the Breeder’s Stakes at Addington where she would take on Dream About Me and Piccadilly Princess in what promises to be one of the best mares’ races in Australasia this season.  Exciting 4-year-old trotter Temporale made it five wins from 15 starts when he won the Majestic Horse Floats Greenlane Handicap for the trotters. The Herlihy (MNZM) trained and driven son of Monarchy led for most of the way in the Group 3 $25,000 event. Immediately after the race Herlihy said he was looking forward to the gelding’sfuture. “He’s a lovely trotter and has come to it real nice this time in. He’s got a lot of potential and it’s just a matter of getting more racing experience into him. “I think he will develop into a nice stayer. We will just progress on with him around here,” Herlihy said. Temporale was having just his second start this campaign after a nice first-up second behind the multiple Group One winning 5-year-old entire, Speeding Spur, seven days ago. He trotted the 2700m stand in 3:29.76 (mile rate 2:05 even) and came home in 58.4 and 29.3. He won by an increasing five lengths and two lengths from stablemate The Almighty Johnson (Todd Macfarlane) and Lemond (Maurice McKendry), who broke earlier in the race. Meanwhile, the $2.60 favourite Bettor Joy proved too strong in the Group Two $80,000 Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock Young Guns Delightful Lady Classic for the 2-year-old pacing fillies. The Cran Dalgety trained and Dexter Dunn driven well bred filly got an easy lead and then proved too strong for her 11 rivals pacing the 1700m mobile in 2:06.08 (mile rate 1:59.3). The daughter of Bettor’s Delight had half a length and two-and-a-quarter lengths to spare over Caitlyn Clarke (Scott Phelan) and Sea Of Gold (David Butcher) thanks to a final sectionals of 58.9 and 28.3. “I paid $80,000 for her at the Sales and I thought that might have been a bit much but she has surprised me. She has such wonderful breeding that she’s now developing into one of the better fillies I have trained in recent years,” Dalgety said. Bettor Joy, who drew three on the second line, is out of the late  Alex McDonald’s eight-win Road Machine mare, Joyful Belle. Her older sister, Joyfuljoy (by Mach Three) won 11 races ($339,612) including the Group One3 $200,000 Harness Jewels 3YO Diamond in 2009. “Every time she goes off the property she comes back a better horse. She won four trials before finishing second behind Purest Silk here last week. “She will stay on and contest the Sires Stakes and Sales Series races up here now,” Dalgety said. Duane Ranger

Scott Phelan won his second consecutive Taranaki Cup on the New Plymouth grass yesterday (Thursday) thanks largely to Canadian-based Kiwi trainer, Mark Herlihy. Herlihy, who turned 33 today (Friday) got married to Casie Coleman in Florida last week and his father Tony Herlihy (MNZM) wasn’t expected back from the wedding until today. He will drive at Alexandra Park tonight. Phelan was the replacement driver and nailed the $11,000 Revital Fertilisers Taranaki Cup for the up to R90 pacers behind the Herlihy trained and R81 ranked Walkinshaw. The Mach Three entire, who started from four on the second row, was the $2.20 favourite. Phelan won last year’s Taranaki Cup behind the Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick trained Prince Of Pops. Thirty-four-year-old Phelan, who works for Steve Telfer at Chris Garlick at Ardmore, was delighted with his first drive behind the tough 4-year-old. “He’s a nice horse and felt extra good today. He went into the race in good condition. I hope the Herlihys are happy with the drive because I was rapt to get him home. “I can see why he has won a lot of money in stakes. He just had a nice fell about him. I thought he would be hard to beat going into the race,” said on his long road trip back to Auckland. “It’s always nice driving winners, but New Plymouth has been kind to me. I enjoy driving there,” he added.. The last time Herlihy won the Cup was in 2011 when he trained and drove Swift Therapy to a length victory. That was the same margin as Walkinshaw’s sixth career win yesterday. He held out $8.70 (place) outsider Fleeting Grin and Peter Ferguson pacing the 2600m mobile in 3:21 even (mile rate 2:04.4) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 59.2 and 30.1. The victory also took Walkinshaw’s earnings past the $100,000 mark. It was his first start in the 2017 North Island Country Cup Series and first on grass. Walkinshaw hadn’t raced this year. He was spelled after finishing 10th in a $20,000 R67 to R85 pace at Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve. That 2700m stand was won by last Saturday night’s Group One $200,000 New South Wales Derby winner, Vincent. Walkinshaw went into the Taranaki Cup with a fair four-length fourth behind The Orange Agent and Sir Richie in an R73 and faster 2500m mobile workout at Pukekohe on February 18. There were seven starters. Herlihy also won the second event with the Tony Cameron driven first starter, Powder Chief. The 3-year-old was the $8.50 fourth favourite in the 6,000 Taranaki Associated Cleaners Fillies and Mares Maiden. The Bettor's Delight brown filly qualified 6.1 seconds under time when sixth of six at the Cambridge Raceway trials on May 20 last year. She then hinted a win was imminent when winning her 2050m workout at Pukekohe on February 11. Hawera trainer Fred Mitchell also had a good day winning two races and finishing fourth twice from his four starters. He won with the Sailesh Abernethy driven Hold All bets in race four and then repeated the dose a race later with the Kyle Marshall reined Jack Bates. They were the $7.10 third and $8.10 fourth favourites respectively. Mitchell looks poised to record his best season in 13 seasons of training. Last year he conditioned six winners and did the same in 2013-2015. With just under five months of 2016-2017 remaining he has already been victorious five times. Waiau Pa reinsman, Kyle Marshall won the TAB’s Driver Challenge with two wins behind Jack Bates (race 5) and Joemaro (race 7); and three seconds with Bouton (race 2) and Saint Michel (race 3), and Alta Roulette (race 4). Duane Ranger

Taranaki Trotting Club secretary Carey Hobbs has rated this afternoon’s (Thursday) fields as the strongest compiled in the Central Districts this season, and gave a hint as to who to follow at the nine-race New Plymouth meeting. “Even though Brent isn’t down to drive, the Mangos stable is really firing on all cylinders at the moment and Tony Herlihy (MNZM) doesn’t usually come all this way for nothing. “Tony has three in and I really like Walkinshaw in the feature event – the Revital Fertilisers Taranaki Cup. He’s a class horse taking on lower rated pacers,” Hobbs said. Walkinshaw hasn’t raced in the 2017 North island Country Cup Series yet. In fact the 4-year-old Mach Three entire hasn’t raced this year. He was spelled after finishing 10th in a $20,000 R67 to R85 pace at Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve. That 2700m stand was won by last Saturday night’s Group One $200,000 New South Wales Derby winner, Vincent. Walkinshaw, who will be driven by Scott Phelan for the first time, has an R81 rating and will start from four on the second row. Only the Andrew and Lyn Neal trained Beyond the Silence (R85) is rated higher than Walkinshaw in the $11,000 feature pace. Walkinshaw goes into the Taranaki Cup with a fair four-length fourth behind The Orange Agent and Sir Richie in an R73 and faster 2500m mobile workout at Pukekohe on February 18. There were seven starters. Herlihy last won the Taranaki Cup when he trained and drove Swift Therapy to a length victory in 2011. After winning five of the 11 races at Alexandra Park last Friday night, it would be silly to discount another winner from the Mangos barn today. He hasn’t trained a Taranaki Cup winner but he did drive the David and Catherine Butt trained Sweet Courage to victory in 2008. Mangos will be represented by Bouton (race two) Saint Michel (race three) and Alta Roulette (race four). The trio will be driven by Kyle Marshall. Marshall will also drive the Arna Donnelly trained Eldolar in the Taranaki Cup. “He’s been racing really well and has already won four races this season. He meets a nice field here, but with luck in the running he’s certainly good enough to get some of it,” Marshall said. Marshall, who has eight drives, said the Mangos trained first-starter Alta Roulette would be his best drive at the meeting. "He's been trialling real good and won his qualifying trial at Cambridge well under time (6.4 seconds) on February 3. He's a real nice type and has a good draw (3) to work with. I think he will be real tough to beat," the 23-year-old said. He also thought the Mangos trained Bouton and Saint Michel could go also close. “Bouton is another first-starter who has placed in all four of her Auckland and Cambridge Workouts. She’s also drawn three and the grass will be good for her first-up. “Saint Michel (4) can definitely get some of it. The mobile will help him and I think he can run in the first two, but in saying that I think Mighty Sunny is the horse to beat," said Marshall. Duane Ranger

Todd Macfarlane jokingly hopes there’s an airport bomb scare when Tony Herlihy (MNZM) returns from the United States this week. Herlihy and his wife Suzanne have been in Florida celebrating their son Mark’s wedding. Last week Mark Herlihy married leading Canadian horsewoman, and multiple Group One winning trainer Casey Coleman.  “Hopefully Tony might not be able to get back into the country. That’s the only way I’ll get to drive The Orange Agent on Friday,” the Pukekohe reinsman joked. The Bunty Hughes trained The Orange Agent has easily won her three workouts at Pukekohe this time in. Herlihy drove her to win by three-quarters of a length on February 11 and then Macfarlane steered the daughter of American Ideal to two easy two-length victories the last two Saturdays. Her winning mile rates were 2:06, 2:00.9 and 1:59.5 respectively. “Bunty wanted me to drive her off the gate on Saturday so we led early and that was basically it. She led all the way and felt special. She’s certainly a very nice open class pacer. “She showed no signs of her previous injuries,” Macfarlane said. The Orange Agent led all the way pacing the 2200m mobile in 2:43.4 with final 800m sprints of a slashing 55.8 and 27 even. Robbie Burns, The Faithful and Arden's Choice were two lengths, a length and two-and-a-half lengths away. They were the only starters.  “She ran off the gate real nice. I think she’s primed to go a big race first-up. I’d love to be driving her on race-day,” said Macfarlane. The Orange Agent will resume from a 14-month spell in Friday's $25,000 Founders' Free-For-All at Alexandra Park. The Lincoln farms sponsored Group Three event is a 1700m mobile and if she shows the same explosive speed off the machine this week she is going to take some stopping. But trainer Hughes isn’t getting carried away and warns after what the 5-year-old has been through, she is still very much a day-to-day proposition. “When you have a horse go through what she’s been through then you can only take her one day at a time. One day she could be fine and the next she could end up lame. “She’s healthy now but you never take anything for granted in this game. It’s all about getting her fit for premier racing at Alexandra Park in March,” said Hughes. Friday’s assignment will be her first race after winning at Cambridge Raceway on January 8 last year when she triumphed in the Group Two Waikato Flying Mile in 1:56.3. The Orange Agent suffered two breaks in her hind leg and was boxed for three months at a time - twice. At the time of her injury she was New Zealand’s best pacing mare and then while she was on the road to recovery vets found another fracture in her pastern in July last year. The Orange Agent has raced 25 times for 18 wins, four seconds, and banked $562,175 in stakes. Her Group One wins came in the Northern Oaks (3yo), the Nevele R Fillies Final, and the Harness Jewels Diamond - all in 2015. She has had two starts in Australia for a Breeders Crown heat win at Ballarat on August 22, 2015 and then eight days later crushed her 11 opponents in the Group One $175,000 Breeders Crown Final at Melton's Tabcorp Park. She was also crowned 4-Year-Old Pacing Mare of the Year at the 2016 Harness Racing Awards in Christchurch. She is likely to race at Alexandra Park again in March and after that? “You can’t look too far ahead with a horse like this, but if she comes through her Auckland races okay then there are Australia options later in the season,” Hughes said. Duane Ranger

It might have been a lowly $2,000 non-tote trot but the Haras Des Trotteurs 2yo Mobile is one race Josh Dickie won't forget in a hurry. Dickie went into the 1700m mobile at Alexandra Park last night (Friday) with a 50-50 chance of achieving the his 300th career win. And he did exactly that behind the Muscle Hill filly,Star Of Oleysa, that he and his father, John, train at Clevedon. The only other starter was the Brent Mangos trained and driven Storm Cloud. Mangos too had a brilliant night driving five winners and training four. Between the duo Dickie and Mangos drove nine of the 12 races carded.  Owned and bred by Reg Caldow, Star Of Oleysa (who is out of the Pegasus Spur mare, Olesya) started from the ace draw and was aided by a gallop from Storm Cloud at the start. At the end of the 1700m Star Of Oleysa and Dickie stopped the clock in 2:15.6 (mile rate 2:08.4) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 61.2 and 28.9. Dickie was rapt. “It doesn’t matter what type of race it ts, it’s good to win any race. I’m delighted. I am a statistics man and this means a lot. One day I would dearly love to drive 1,000 winners and a lot more Group One events,” Dickie said. “I owe a lot to Dad and all the other owners and trainers for putting me on their horses,” he added. Dickie took eight-and-a-half seasons to achieve the milestone. His stake earnings currently sit at $2.8 million. The 25-year-old alsonotched up his 301st, 302ndand 303rd driving wins behind the Tony Herlihy (MNZM) trained Mr Euroman in the second event, and then combined with his Dad to co-train and drive the $2.80 favourite C K Spur to victory in race five. Then he nailed ninth eventbehind the Dickie trained Kate Black. “It’s been a great night all right. I’ve had some nice drives and landed in some nice positions. It’s been a night to remember. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it,” Dickie said. Meanwhile, Dickie Senior is just two wins away from the 500-training milestone after Star Of Oleysa’s first win at her third start (two previous seconds) and then C K Spur and Kate Black getting the chocolates. Dickie (John) has won 364 on his own and another 133with his son. His collective career earnings stand at $4.1 million. The Ray Green trained and David Butcher driven Northview Hustler caused a slight upset in the $30,000 New Zealand Sires Stakes/Rosslands 3yo Colts & Geldings Graduate (2200m mobile). The 3-year-old Bettor's Delight colt was the $12.20 fourth favourite and paced the 2200m mobile in a slick 2:40.8 (mile rate 1:57.6) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 57.3 and 28 even. It was his second win in five starts. The female equivalent – the $30,000 New Zealand Sires Stakes/Rosslands 3yo Fillies Graduette (2200m mobile) was won by the Gareth Dixon trained and Simon Lawson driven American Princess. The brown American Ideal filly, who was the $15.20 fourth favourite, won in 2:40.9 (mile rate 1;57.7) and home in 58.3 and 29 even. That was her first win in six starts. The $14,999 feature pace and trot were both won by Franklin reinsman Brent Mangos, who nailed the $14,999 Stables Cafe 2017 Franklin Cup Racenight Handicap for the R70 to R100 pacers with Maxim. He also trained Maxim, the 2014 Victoria Cup winner.Maxim has now won two of his three starts this campaign and has finished second in the other. ‘Mango’ repeated the dose in the $14,999 Franklin Long Roofing Handicap for the R67 to R109 (& claimers) trotters with the Tony Herlihy trained King of The Roses. Mangos’s third, fourth and fifth driving victories came via first starter, Culpeka in race three, Roi Des Gitans in the 10th event and then Smoldering Ashes in race 11. The Waiau Pa horseman also trained the trio. “It’s great to win any race but five is a bonus. It’s been a real good night. The team is going really well at the moment,” Mangos said. Duane Ranger

Despite a nice win at the Auckland Trotting Club’s Workouts in Pukekohe last Saturday (February 11) the multiple Group One winning mare, The Orange Agent, is still very much a day-to-day proposition. Those words came from her Ardmore trainer, Brian (Bunty) Hughes, three days after the American Ideal mare won her 2500m - R55 and faster mobile in the hands of Tony Herlihy (MNZM). She nailed the six-horse trial (right-handed) by three quarters of a length, stopping the clock in 3:15.9 (mile rate 2:06) and last 800m and 400m in 59.2 and 27.8. The Orange Agent started started from the outside of the front-line and Herlihy eased her to the rear early. The classy mare then got a drag into the race from Bet Out Of El at the 700m and then in the lane had too much sprint for her opponents. She won untouched. That was her first run since winning at Cambridge Raceway on January 8 last year when she triumphed in the Group Two Waikato Flying Mile in 1:56.3. Hughes said he was delighted with where she was at, but wasn’t getting too carried away. “When you have a horse go through what she’s been through then you can only take her one day at a time. One day she could be fine and the next she could end up lame. “She’s healthy now but you never take anything for granted in this game. It’s all about getting her fit for premier racing at Alexandra Park next month,” Hughes said. The Orange Agent suffered two breaks in her hind leg and was boxed for three months at a time - twice. At the time of her injury she was New Zealand’s best pacing mare and then while she was on the road to recovery vets found another fracture in her pastern in July last year. “You can’t look too far ahead with a horse like this, but if she comes through her Auckland races okay then there are Australia options later in the season. “It would be just great to have her back to her best, because she was a quality mare and one of the best of her sex going around,” Hughes said. The Orange Agent has raced 25 times for 18 wins, four seconds, and banked $562,175 in stakes. Her Group One wins came in the Northern Oaks (3yo), the Nevele R Fillies Final, the Harness Jewels Diamond - all in 2015. She has had two starts in Australia for a Breeders Crown heat win at Ballarat on August 22, 2015 and then eight days later crushed her 11 opponents in the Group One $175,000 Breeders Crown Final at Melton's Tabcorp Park. She was also crowned 4-Year-Old Pacing Mare of the Year at the 2016 Harness Racing Awards in Christchurch. The Orange Agent’s first race-day assignment will be in either the Group Three $25,000 Lincoln Farms Free-For-All 'The Founders Pace' or the Charles Roberts $20,000 North Island Standardbred Breeders Stakes for 4-year-old and pacing mares on March 3. “I can’t stress enough that’s she’s day-to-day proposition, but at this stage she is healthy and we just need to get her fit,” Hughes reiterated. Duane Ranger

Tim Vince can walk on water… and not just in the shower either. The Kumeu trainer has been on fire notching up six wins from as many starters at three meetings – all in just seven days. Vince made it six-from-six at Cambridge Raceway last night (Friday) when his flagship horse, KD Hall and Tony Herlihy (MNZM) won the $7,000 Fairview Motors Cambridge Handicap for the R50 and faster trotters.  He was the $1.40 favourite, and it was a gutsy performance from his 40m handicap. But the biggest shock of all came from the appropriately named Chal Shocked, who left people gobsmacked, when winning the $10,000 Kiwi Bus Builders Handicap for the R66 and faster pacers. The Jereme’s Jet gelding was the eighth favourite of eight and paid a whopping $34.60 to win. Bought from the South Island for a mere $5,000 in September last year, the 5-year-old got up in the last stride to beat second favourite M o casino (Zac Butcher) by a nose. Typically humble, Vince diverted all the praise to Ardmore driver, Scott Phelan. “I’m rapt for Scotty. We have been friends for over 20 years and this year has been a tough one for him. He’s a such a good driver and I want to support him as much as possible. “You don’t win more than 400 races and earn more than $4.3 million in your career by just sitting there. He’s a very talented driver and I’d never hesitate putting him on. The industry needs experience and quality like him,” 61-year-old Vince said. Vince has now doubled his season tally from six to 12 wins in just seven days. The latest half dozen victories now means he has recorded a season best. Last season he won nine races and to date has nailed 41 career victories ($311,123) since taking out his licence in 2012. "It's all luck. We have had the good draws, the good runs, and not one of our drivers has put a foot wrong. Any other day we might have drawn wide, got back and be running on for perhaps a place. "This harness sport is like a game of poker. You never know which hand you will be dealt. We have had a lot of luck. It's not a trainer thing," the ultra modest Vince said. His golden run of form started last Friday night at Cambridge when Chal Shocked and Vince’s partner, Sheryl Wigg in the $8,000 McMillan Equine Feeds Amateur Mobile for the Up to R63 pacers. Then later on that card, KD Hall and Herlihy nailed the $10,000 Breckon Farms R60 and faster trot. Then a day later Drover's Eyre and Wigg won the $6,000 Classic Cuisine Amateur Drivers R63-plus pace at Rotorua. Four races later Monnay and Brent Mangos were too good in the $8,000 Ruck N Maul Rotorua Handicap for the R50 and faster trotters. “I’m just an amateur trainer who tried to get the best out of people’s unwanted horses. I do my best to place them where I can. “KD Hall ($10,000) is the most expensive horse in our barn. Drover’s Eyre only cost us $2,000, and we paid just $6,000 for Monnay,”Vince said. “I recently bought another amateur horse from the South Island named Franco Hamilton for Sheryl to drive. He’s won twice and placed twice from his last four starts in Otago and Southland,” he added. On the way home from Cambridge last night, Vince and Wigg were at odds about KD hall’s career. “I want to retire him because I think he’s met his mark.The ratings will tell you that. He’s been so good to us and deserves a nice early retirement. He’s only seven but that is my gut feeling. “But Sheryl wants to start him in a 3000m race at Tauranga next start. He might start in that. We will just wait and see, but because of his rating my heart is telling me to call it quits with him. He deserves that,” Vince said. The son of Quite Easy had to work hard to notch up his 10th win in 62 starts last night. He started beautifully from his back-mark and after 400m found himself in fourth position. Herlihy then had him in the one-one at the bell. Then the master driver swept to the lead at the end of the back straight before holding on to win by half a length from Primus Inter Pares (Scott Phelan. KD Hall trotted the 2700mstand from 40m behind in 3:29.1 (mile rate 2:04.6) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 60.4 and 29.7.  Meanwhile Vince said he would continue to race Chal Shocked. “He’s also met his mark, but I don’t mind so much with him because I’m thinking one day he will be back in the amateur races again and Sheryl will be able to drive him. “He’s turned out way better than what I thought he would. That was a gutsy win last night, but it was all Scotty. That was one hell of a drive. “I don’t think we would have won that race last night had it not been for his prowess in the bike,” said Vince. Vince also paid a tribute to Wigg and Tabatha Fensom. “They do all the work at the stable. I’m nothing more than a stablehand. Without them we would not be winning,” he said. Duane Ranger

Former pacing hero Christopher Vance has died. The New Zealand and Auckland Cup star as well as Miracle Mile winner passed away on Monday at Cambridge Thoroughbred Lodge, where he had spent his retirement. A lodge representative said the 30-year-old gelding had a colic attack so was put to sleep. “He was a wonderful old horse and everybody here loved him.” The $1.7million earner was laid to rest next to champion galloper and best mate Rough Habit, the pair having been mates for nearly two decades. Among those saddened by the news was former trainer Barry Purdon. “He was real gentleman,” said Purdon. “He has great speed and manners and was a lovely horse to do anything with. “So I am glad he got to spend his retirement there being looked after so well.”Christopher Vance raced in a golden ear against Chokin, Golden Reign, Master Musician, Blossom Lady, The Bru Czar, Franco Ice and his own stablemate Mark Hanover. Yet as well as the three huge Grand Circuit races he won, he also scored in a New Zealand Free-For-All, NZ Messenger and Northern Derby. He was a potent force with Tony Herlihy in the sulky but while there NZ and Auckland Cup wins were testament to his manners and ability, it was his Miracle Mile success of 1991 that was his greatest moment. Up against Westburn Grant looking to become the first three-time winner of the race as well as his own three-year-old stablemate Chokin, Christopher Vance was written off by Australian experts and they looked right when he was last with a lap of Harold Park to go. But he unleashed one of the great sprints in Miracle Mile history to down Defoe, with Westburn Grant third with Chokin crashing to the track distressed. While he was never as dominant again as during that golden summer of 1991-92, Christopher Vance raced at the highest level for another four years, adding the likes of Victor Supreme, Brabham and even Il Vicolo to his rivals. Michael Guerin

Frustrated, disappointed and now relieved. That’s how Tony Herlihy (MNZM) has felt about his promising 4-year-old pacer Walkinshaw’s last three starts. The master Ardmore horseman was disappointed that he missed away at Kaikoura and then disappointed he didn’t run on when finishing fifth in a $20,000, C3/4 Pace at Addington. “Even though it was a quick time at Addington I still thought he could have run on better. I don’t know what it affected him down there but he wasn’t 100 per cent. Maybe it was the travel but I’m just delighted that he’s getting back to where he should be. “He got a nice trip the other night but 2:39.2 is still a good time. I think he will be a real nice horse in 12 months because the breed seems to take time,” Herlihy said. Walkinshaw notched up his fifth win in 26 starts in last Friday’s $13,999 Generation Homes R67-R99 Pace at Alexandra Park. The son of Mach Three and Monaro bolted in by six-and-three-quarter lengths with a 1:56.4 mile rate for the 2200m mobile. He and Herlihy came home in 57.2 and 28.4. Walkinshaw was the $3.10 second favourite and took his stake earnings to $93,232. “He’s a good little stayer and I think he will mature into a nice horse. I didn’t nominate him for the (Auckland) Cup this year because I think he’s 12 months away from the elite class. “I’ll race him during the Cup Carnival and plan his racing after that. There are some nice four-year-old races for him next year,” Herlihy said. Clients of Herlihy’s (R S Tomlinson, P Morris, P J Hailes, and S W Waters) paid $50,000 to Te Kuiti breeder Bruce Spurdle for Walkinshaw at the 2014 Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka. Friday’s victory was his biggest to date, but Walkinshaw did place in this year’s Group One Woodlands Northern Derby behind Lazarus and Chase The Dream. “He’s getting stronger all the time and he can stay a bit. I liked the way he resumed from his spell and won well here first up. Then we took him to the South Island. He seemed well at home this week and showed that on Friday,” Herlihy said. The fact that all five of Walkinshaw’s wins have been from behind the mobile doesn’t concern Herlihy. “I think he will take to it okay. He’s an entire and is learning all the time. It’s something we will look at but he gives me the impression he will cope all right,” said Herlihy. Herlihy trained and drove three winners at Alexandra Park last Friday night. He now leads the Alexandra Park Driving Premiership by one win from Zac Butcher, 15-14. He also narrowed the gap on his brother-in-law Barry Purdon in the Training Premiership. Purdon now leads 15-14. The race after Walkinshaw’s win Brent Mangos drove the Herlihy trained Blackguard’s Corner to victory. Herlihy also trained and drove $1.50 favourite Classy Chapel to win the eighth event. His other driving victory came in race four via the Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett trained Makarewa Jake. He’s now driven 17 winners in 2016-2017 and 3,404 ($35.4m) in his career. Training-wise Herlihy has bagged 15 victories this season and 827 ($10.2m) all-up. Duane Ranger

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